Buying a property abroad: Hacks to nab bargain overseas dream home | Personal Finance | Finance



But, more often than not, the price tags on those idyllic properties are simply out of reach and the dream remains just that: a dream. 

Some people, however, will not let that put them off and have developed a number of hacks to get hold of their perfect overseas escape on the cheap.

If the idea of finding a place in the European sun without breaking the bank sounds appealing, here is how you can do it.

Look at properties in small towns and villages

In big cities, property prices are usually inflated as this is where most people want to live so they can be close to the major jobs markets. 

Similarly, secluded coves dotted with mansions beside paradise beaches are also no-go areas as they will simply be unaffordable to the budget conscious.

No, instead you should seek out small villages and towns that are at least within striking distance of the more obvious holiday hot spots. 

Small towns are ideal for the budget property hunter as there is often very little interest from foreigners, and with ever more young people heading to the big cities the locals will often be glad to see some new faces.

In places such as Spain and Portugal, if you go off the beaten track you can often find small houses or flats for as little as €5,000. 

Often these are not even advertised through estate agents, and may just be online adverts or even posters pinned to the wall in the village bar!

Choose a fixer-upper

It is nice to be able to buy a house or villa that is already perfectly renovated, but this is not where you’ll find any savings. 

What you want to look out for is a property that needs some work doing on it.

That is not to say it is a good idea to buy a derelict ruin – to keep costs down the ideal property will simply need some modernisation and decoration. 

Make sure you get a surveyor to take a look at any properties you are interested in as the last thing you want to do is buy somewhere that is structurally unsound or will need major works to make it habitable.

You need to have set a budget for this at the outset, so make sure you have an idea of how much any work will cost, and keep a contingency fund ready for those unexpected outlays.

Employ local contractors (but make sure you have local knowledge)

Further savings can be made by employing local builders, plumbers and electricians, rather than using a foreign contractor simply because they may speak English. 

To that end, however, unless you speak the local language well you will need to find a trusted individual who can translate and perhaps even negotiate on your behalf. 

Make sure they make it abundantly clear to any contractors that you are on a strict budget, and haggle if necessary.

Or renovate it yourself

If you are handy mixing cement or doing the plumbing, and have the time and inclination for it, you can take on the renovation or remodelling of your newly-purchased bargain property yourself. 

This method is clearly for those who feel confident dealing with builders’ merchants and trade suppliers if you want to keep costs low.

Do not go overboard furnishing it – upcycle instead

Sometimes you might be able to find a property that is already fully furnished, but in most cases it will be empty.

While there is every temptation to head off to Ikea with your credit card and a big van, a much more affordable strategy is to head out to second hand furniture shops, flea markets and car boot sales.

What’s more, just like in the UK, you will likely find numerous local groups and pages on social media where people sell or even give away unwanted furniture and household goods. 

Remember, the name of the game is to get your dream property ready on a shoestring budget. 

If you follow these steps you could be holding the keys to your new house in no time at all. 

What is more, you will be happy in the knowledge that while it may not be as ‘exclusive’ as those glitzy ones featured in the property magazines, it is still your own little piece of paradise, and you did it all on a shoestring.  


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